If You Want to Be My Lover, Here’s a Reading List

Here’s the thing: if you want my future, I really, really, want you to take my past into account. Truly, the Spice Girls do not describe my philosophy on relationships in any way shape or form (except for the whole thing about getting along with my friends. Baby, Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Scary, and I can all agree on that). Just to show you how much this song won’t work, I’ve provided an annotated version for you:

If you want my future, forget my past duly noted that this statement is erroneous

If you wanna get with me, better make it fast actually, I’m ok with a slow burn

Now don’t go wasting my precious time is getting with someone ever a waste or just another learning experience? 

Get your act together and we’ll be just fine all applicants must have their act somewhat together in order to audition for the position of my lover

Now that we’ve determined that late nineties British pop songs are not an accurate instruction manual for loving me, let me provide you with a better sense of where I come from and what I need.

“Miss Independent,” Kelly Clarkson

Good news! There actually is a cheesy pop song that describes my situation! Chances are, you are helping me transition from “Miss Independent” to the end of the bridge (“I’m so glad I finally see”). But just listen to the beginning so you get a sense of what my “before” side looks like.

“Guadalupe the Sex Goddess,” by Sandra Cisneros

This article is not exactly my story, but it has a lot of parallels. I had a lock on my door. I’ve seen my mother naked (when I was three). I had a little more education than Cisneros did on sex and sexuality, but it kind of stopped after this cute (and at the time traumatizing) book that my parents bought me called The Care and Keeping of You (#nostalgia). I think they left the whole “what happens after you get your period” part to the school, and that was… well … they played a childbirth video in the tenth grade to scare all sexual urges out of us.

There is a point to this, I swear. Cisneros really hits the head on how it is difficult to come into your own as a sexual being when you are raised Latina and Catholic. At the end, Cisneros synthesizes her philosophical, artistic, and cultural identities, and that’s what I’m moving towards. My goal is tía Sandra’s goal:

“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her own skin.”

“Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit

Actually, just read this even if you have lost interest in dating me. It will just make you a better person.

“How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Gloria Anzaldúa

Lover, I will never be able to explain my complicated relationship with Spanish to you. But I’ll try my best. And no, I was never beaten for speaking Spanish in school like tía Gloria was, but I also have never been fully able to be bilingual. Not one partner has ever called me by my real name, said “Paulina” with the first syllable as “pow.” Or, as tía Gloria puts it:

“Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without always having to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate.”

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, Adelle Waldman

Think about your life. Think about your choices. Nathaniel Ps need not apply.

“A Love Letter to Anxious Ladies,” Meghna Sridhar

Does this seem like something you can deal with? Good. You’re hired.

“(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” Carole King

Don’t worry lover, there’s a happy ending. This is one of my favorite love songs. Enjoy.






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